Rural Issues

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“We have critical care emergency services being funded by fish fries and spaghetti dinners.”
– NBC News’ October 2019 report on EMS in rural areas.

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Texas EMS Assistance Program

TEMSA worked with state lawmakers to create HB 1407 (the Texas EMS Assistance Program) in 2017. Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 1407 into law on June 15, 2017.

HB 1407 creates the framework to preserve local project grants (LPGs) and develop a distance-learning program for rural paramedics. TEMSA is working with lawmakers to create funding mechanisms for the program.

The Loss of LPGs

Local project grants (LPGs) have been a lifeline for many urban and rural EMS agencies. In the past, many EMS agencies relied on LPGs for capital equipment, injury-prevention projects, and continuing education for EMS professionals.

From 2009 to 2014, Scurry County EMS relied on LPGs to help create their STEMI (ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction) program through education for EMS professionals and the purchase of capital equipment and other supplies associated with cardiac care, stroke care programs, and critical care transport. PK Westlake EMS in Graham used a $30,000 LPG to acquire a 2012 ambulance remount. Without the grant, the volunteer agency would not have been able to replace its 2000 model chassis.

These are just two examples of how EMS agencies utilized LPGs in the past. Unfortunately, LPGs are no longer an option for EMS agencies due to the depletion of the EMS and Trauma dedicated Tobacco Fund. The 85th Legislature did not account for LPG funding in the last session.

TEMSA is encouraging the 86th Legislature to fund LPGs. Equipment costs have continued to rise, and the recent rule changes added a number of capital items that will be required on Texas ambulances (12 lead EKG, waveform capnography, etc.). For the rural EMS agencies that actually have to rely on fundraisers in the local community to help fund their operations, the availability of an LPG would be critical to ensure that the agency meets equipment requirements required by Texas regulations.

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